It's been more than a week already since
Kuewa and I ghosted into Kaneohe Bay on a spectacular Friday morning.
The previous 24 hours had been a little tense, with Kuewa's
electrical system developing some problems and sleep being hard to
come by, sailing within 12 miles of Moloka'i at 9pm as we turned
gradually more westward. The wind backed slightly to the north as we
made the curve so Kuewa could point straight for Moku Manu, the twin
islands at the point before Kaneohe, without my having to jibe the
whisker pole again. Because of the electrical problems, the wind vane
blade was steering, rather than the autopilot. The vane followed the
wind shift, I didn't touch a thing, and Kuewa headed straight for
We had been on port jibe, with the jib
on the whisker pole out on the port side, main and genoa out to
starboard, for 4 days (except for one little test jibe 2 days out).
We were making excellent speed, with Kuewa and the autopilot taking
off on surfs down some waves at up to 13 knots. I just stood there in
the main hatch with a big grin, amazed at the ease with which Kuewa
did this without any input from me!
Noodle advised that the high pressure
system expanding southward was gong to suck up the wind to our north
so the southerly course was the best to stay in the breeze. This
brought us to within 47 miles of Pepeekeo Point on the Haumakua coast
of the Big Island on Thursday morning, where we jibed and started our
curving island tour. The Big Island never did peek out of the clouds,
and anyway, we were going so quickly in the solid trade winds that
shortly we were within sight of Haleakala on Maui. I was a bit
nervous about approaching the islands this way, putting me close to
hard things for 30 hours. I came into it a little sleep deprived
already, for no other reason than the brain would not shut off long
enough to give me complete rest during the previous two days. Prior
to that, I had been getting 8 to 10 hours sleep in 24, which was
But Noodle's calm advice was spot on.
The island tour was so fun, watching all of them peel by so quickly,
and that wind shift with the vane following it to aim us right
towards home seemed cosmic.
The dawn arrival in the Sampan Channel
to Kaneohe Bay was full of emotion. It was so absolutely beautiful,
the orange, pink, and yellow sunrise highlighting the spectacular
Ko'olau mountains that rise 3,000 feet behind Kaneohe, the gentle
wind, the slight swell, and water so clear the coral heads racing by
under the keel looked way too close. I knew the channel was 10 feet
deep but after years of sailing California's murky waters, it was
disconcerting and amazing at the same time. Then Mokupe'a hove into
sight with Noodle and Lori aboard. They had gotten up at 4am to come
out and greet us. As they approached, Noodle blew the conch shell.
Wow! Tears of relief at the success, but mostly from just finally
having Kuewa here in my favorite place.
We sailed together all the way up to
the Malukai cove, dropped the sails, and motored in to meet my sister
Kit and her husband Felipe, who came out in the dinghy and kayak to
help tie up to the mooring. The mooring pennant had become wrapped
and wouldn't lift easily. We tied temporarily, and I got into my
scuba gear and went down and retrieved the pennant. Kuewa was home.
Mokupe'a came alongside, lei, hugs,
haupia cream pie, and POG. Thanks Noodle, Lori, Kit and Felipe for
the wonderful welcome! Home!
This last week has been a whirlwind of
bureaucracy and administrivia and play. Kuewa passed her State
inspection but Allstate dropped us like an 8,000 pound mooring block.
Kuewa is 46 years old, and lots of insurance companies won't touch
that. Changing states triggered Allstate's abandonment. But I found
someone who will write both loss and P&I for her. Of course, the
boat needs to be surveyed (standard). I haven't found out whether
there is an out-of-water component to the survey, which means another
dry docking on the other side of the island.
I have hiked Moanalua
Valley, walked on Kailua Beach, spent hundreds of dollars already at
2 marine supply stores and on-line for stuff that failed on the
crossing (mostly electrical), finished installing seats in the Hawaiian
dinghy, worked on the mooring some more, bought a truck, attended two
membership interviews at the Kaneohe Yacht Club, helped with one
work party at the Kaneohe Yacht Club fixing docks, and sailed the bay
three times with family and friends.
The crossing itself was amazing and so
much fun! Kuewa performed so very well. The electrical failures were
due to my not believing water would find its way into the back of the
electrical panel. Twenty years of observation during rainstorms and
some rough San Francisco sailing didn't reveal the weakness that
allowed a small amount of water in when the boat was tweaked the way
she was during the crossing. The amount was so small it didn't pool,
but it was enough to fry half the switches and cause bad corrosion. I
re-wired stuff underway to keep things going, but by the
second-to-last night, pretty much everything had given up, except the
AIS and engine starting, which I had wired into separate circuits.
The InReach tracker also runs separately provided it can be charged with a USB cable. The solar charge controller malfunctioned on the third day as well
but I was able to wire around it to get one leg functional to charge
one battery bank. All of this was due to my not recognizing how much
waterproofing should have been built into that panel.
The only other real issue was chafe. I replaced the monitor steering lines three times, meaning four sets were used in 2 weeks. Hmmm. And the main topping lift almost chafed through. I caught it in time by doing a masthead inspection with binoculars, and ran a replacement. The mainsail reefing line chafed through at the clew (minor).
Food was very good. I lost no weight
during the crossing. I ate pretty much what I eat at home. Sleep was
better than expected for the bulk of the trip. The last 4 days were a
little tough, caused mostly by unnecessary insomnia. To compensate
for the grogginess that finally set in on the last night off Molokai,
when I was 16 miles or more from land, I set two alarms in 1-hour
sessions, to ensure that I would not run up on shore if the boat changed course for whatever reason. I got 3 solid
hours this way and had the energy to scuba dive the mooring
immediately after arriving. I've been sleeping a lot since.
The biggest successes were Kuewa's
sailing characteristics, the Solent twin headsails, and the Pelagic autopilot (which steers via
the Monitor steering vane). What a team! We spent almost half the time with mainsail, 155% genoa, and 100% working jib all set at the same time, giving wonderful downwind sail area. I won't rhapsodize too much further,
but just say: 62 year old guy singlehanding a 46 year old boat 2,294
miles in under 15 days (from the Golden Gate Bridge to Sampan Channel
buoy one, 14 days, 21 hours). Quite respectable. It was the 46 year
old girl who did it all. I feel as though I just stood there in the
companionway and watched the whole time. And hung on!
Thank you all so much for following
along! It was just so great receiving all your notes and
A video is in the works.